Janet Agren is unlikely casting as the bedraggled prostitute of Brunella Rondi's MACADAM JUNGLE, a film whose natural English title of INGRID THE STREETWALKER was apparently never used.
I saw it in a version padded with XXX insert scenes, but the original format clearly shines through. Ingrid's a stunning blonde girl from the north who arrives in Rome after trying her hand (literally) at hooking on the train. Once ensconced in the fabled metropolis, she's taken under the wing of an experienced streetwalker Claudia (played by Francesca Romana Coluzzi, who easily steals the movie), and seems to make the big time when hired as a twosome by decadent aristocrat Urbano (played by talented actor-director Enrico Maria Salerno).
Matters reach a tragic inclusion due to the evil machinations of the leader of a motorcycle gang, Renato (Franco Citti, on loan from Pier Paolo Pasolini's acting stable). Plenty of sex and gore is delivered, even without the unmatched, brightly lit XXX closeups that showed up like clockwork in the DVD I watched. Many of the films of this era were spiced up with hardcore scenes added later (even so big a star as Ornella Muti suffered this ignominious fate), but in one b.j. closeup it is fortunately obvious that Agren was not personally degraded in this fashion -only her film was.
Agren is such an ice-maiden beauty that she doesn't fit this casting choice -no matter how she's pawed, her clothes torn, or her makeup ruffled, she remains ready to step out and film a L'Oreal commercial at any moment (sort of the Dayle Haddon syndrome). Filling in the blanks is Coluzzi, an earthy beauty who reminds me of Francoise Fabian (the French-dubbed soundtrack helped cement that impression), and she gives one powerhouse performance here. I've seen her in many films over the years, but I don't think she ever got the big break or achieved starring roles. Citti as the dastardly, sadistic villain is very disappointing -I wasn't convinced by his character for a moment. Score by Carlo Savina is excellent.
Filmmaker Brunello Rondi remains, 20 years after his death, an enigma -I hope to see more of his work soon, starting with his debut VIOLENT LIFE which starred Citti and was derived from a Pasolini story. Rondi wrote films for Fellini for most of the maestro's career, but never established himself as a director of note on his own. However, his frequent dabbling with popular exploitation themes means he is due for a re-evaluation, now that exploitation films (especially from Italy) are so highly prized by a new generation of buffs, whose "taste buds have been ruined" to paraphrase an exhortation by Henri Langlois, and who reject wholesale the classics of cinema history.
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